Saegertown Plant Achieves 100% Participation in Lean Basic Program

Saegertown began Lean Basic classes in July of 2013 and is excited to have reached 100% trained. They still have a challenge, which is, “How do we make sure that we give people the time and the resources needed to complete their deliverables?” Currently, their plant is at 58% certification rate. Their 2016 certification goal is 100%.

The Lean Journey can be challenging. They realized the importance of scaling the scope of PDCA projects to match participants’ experience, which takes skill that is learned by doing.

It’s easy to discover problems and feel a strong desire to enthusiastically attempt to fix issues. This approach can lead to frustration, and long drawn out projects that can be near impossible to complete.

Seeing a problem and wanting to fix it is acceptable, however, they want to make sure that they break the problem down into achievable steps. This process leads to fixing the root problem, as a desired state and, by using the PDCA cycle with a continuous improvement mindset, reaching the goal. Their focus is on attainable goals that can be accomplished, and taking time to recognize accomplishments, and then moving onto the next PDCA to foster continuous improvement.

Operating in this manner can be challenging. They are working to discipline themselves to follow through and make certain that projects are aligned with company goals. They developed an A3 for 2016 that sets business goals for their facility. The A3 is their north star they refer to whenever they’re not sure what their next step should be. They use the project selection phase to assure projects are aligned with business needs, helping people get the resources needed to succeed with their projects.

Another challenge they have is completing Lean Basic deliverables in a timely manner. Participating in Lean Basic can be empowering and overwhelming. Participants are often excited to start working on deliverables until the following Monday when they are back to work. Keeping the momentum going is a challenge. Saegertown saw two things happening. They got through their PDCA and moved deliverables to another day, or they completed individual deliverables and struggled with the PDCA.

To counter this, they instituted a two-hour Lean Basic Study Group two times per week, overlapping second and third shift, and third and first shift. Up to four people are welcome in each session and a member of OT is present for guidance. Since this program started at the beginning of February, they have been able to help 20 employees successfully complete their deliverables. Employees have been receptive toward this program and are grateful for the follow-up from Lean Basic.

Now that everyone in the plant has been through Lean Basic, Saegertown will be working with the corporate OT team to run a pilot of Lean Basic 2.0. They began embedding employees who are working toward their Lean Pro Certification on the off-shifts. The goal is to keep the study hall staffed and work on identified projects. They are focusing on having more kaizen and 5S events on the off-shifts. Everyone should be included in the continuous improvement effort. If any segment of the work force is left out, they will never gain the momentum desired.

Saegertown’s success in Lean Basic is supported by Saegertown’s President, Ken Guity, in conjunction with the Saegertown staff. Without this support, their facility would have taken longer to accomplish this milestone. Employees have started to accept that this is a cultural change and that there are many advantages to Lean compared to traditional manufacturing concepts. Saegertown is excited to see what the future holds and is anxiously anticipating the next step in their journey.